We see product safety as an integral part of all business processes, as an element of our risk management, and as an important pillar of our commitment to Responsible Care®. We continuously work to ensure that our products pose no risk to people or the environment when they are used responsibly and in the manner intended.
Strategy and governance
We are committed to continuously minimizing the negative effects of our products on the environment, health and safety and to the ongoing optimization of our products. This commitment to product safety is enshrined in our Responsible Care® charter and the initiatives of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA). Our products should not pose any risk to humans or the environment when used responsibly and in the manner intended. We aim to comply with all relevant national and international laws and regulations.
Our global requirements define rules, processes and responsibilities, for example, to ensure uniformly high product safety standards worldwide. Our sites and Group companies are responsible for implementing and complying with internal guidelines and legal requirements. The Environmental Protection, Health, Safety and Quality unit in the Corporate Center conducts regular audits to monitor this. BASF’s global network of experts shares information, insights and best practices around product safety on an ongoing basis.
Before our products are launched on the market, they undergo various tests and assessments – depending on legal requirements and their application profile. Our aim here is to identify potential hazard characteristics as well as health and environmental risks at an early stage. Based on these results, we derive precautionary and protective measures and develop recommendations for safe handling – from production to application and disposal.
We maintain and evaluate environmental, health and safety data for all of our substances and products in a global database. This information is continuously updated. The database forms the basis for communicating this information in our safety data sheets, which we make available to our customers in around 40 languages. These include information on the physical/chemical, toxicological and ecotoxicological properties of products, potential hazards, first aid measures, measures to be taken in the case of accidental release, and disposal. Our global emergency hotline network enables us to provide information around the clock. To ensure that people who buy, sell, use, transport or dispose of our products can quickly find out about our products and the risks associated with them, we use the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) to classify and label our products around the world, provided this is legally permissible in the country concerned. We take into account any national or regional modifications within the GHS framework, such as the E.U.’s regulation on the classification, labeling and packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP Regulation).
If necessary, we advise our customers on product safety. We set guidelines on the safe transport of dangerous goods for our logistics service providers worldwide. We also train our employees worldwide on the proper handling and use of selected products with particular hazard potential.
In associations and together with other manufacturers, BASF supports the establishment of voluntary global commitments to prevent the misuse of chemicals. We are also involved at national and international level in various initiatives to further develop risk assessments, such as that of the European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC).
Global chemicals regulations
Most of the products we manufacture are subject to statutory chemicals regulations. We are bound by the relevant regional and national chemicals regulations, which continue to grow in number worldwide. Examples include REACH in the E.U., UK REACH in the United Kingdom, KKDIK in Turkey, K-REACH in South Korea and TSCA in the United States. BASF Group companies work closely together with a global network of experts to ensure that BASF complies with the applicable regulations.
In Europe, the European Commission has developed a roadmap that will bring about far-reaching changes to the regulation of chemicals in Europe in the coming years: the European Green Deal and, as a part of this, the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS). BASF supports the objectives of the Green Deal in principle but sees a need for adjustment, greater clarity and predictability, particularly in regulatory matters, to strike a balance between achieving the ambitions of the CSS and safeguarding the long-term competitiveness and future viability of the European chemical industry. As part of the ongoing clarification process, we are therefore seeking dialog with all relevant stakeholders and are advocating for a science-based and innovation-driven development of the regulatory framework.
Animal welfare in environmental and toxicological testing
Before launching products on the market, we subject them to a variety of tests, including environmental and toxicological tests using state-of-the-art knowledge and technology. If these tests include animal studies, this is generally required by law and necessary to reliably evaluate the safety and efficacy of our products. If we employ animal studies, we adhere to the specifications laid down by the German Animal Welfare Act as well as the requirements of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care – the highest standard for laboratory animals in the world. We develop and are continuously optimizing alternative methods to experimentally assess the safety and tolerance of our products without animal studies. In addition, we are involved in networks such as the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing to further develop alternative methods across sectors.
Our aim is to replace, reduce or refine animal studies to minimize the impact on them. For example, we use an OECD-certified alternative testing strategy developed jointly with Givaudan for animal-free testing of allergic skin reactions. We also use other alternative methods. In 2022, BASF SE’s Experimental Toxicology and Ecology became the first institute in the world to be certified for Good In Vitro Method Practices (GIVIMP). GIVIMP is a standard published by the OECD. It increases the quality of data generated by in vitro test methods and confidence in newly developed non-animal test methods.
Management of nano- and biotechnology
Nanotechnology and biotechnology offer solutions for key societal challenges – such as environmental and climate protection and health and nutrition. For example, nanomaterials can improve battery performance and biocatalytic methods can improve process resource efficiency. We want to harness the potential of both technologies. Using them safely and responsibly is our top priority. Safe handling of nanomaterials is stipulated in our Nanotechnology Code of Conduct, for instance. Two European Union-sponsored projects on assessing nanosafety – GRACIOUS and PATROLS – were completed with BASF’s assistance. The results were documented and communicated in 2022 in numerous publications with BASF’s involvement.